Inworld AI, the team behind one of the industry’s leading AI character engines, has raised $100m on a $500m valuation. This investment will see Inworld AI go all in on the convergence of gaming and AI.
Any regular listeners of the Mint One podcast will know that I have something of a preoccupation with AI NPCs in games. Although we’re still in the foetal stages of this phenomenon, it’s easy to imagine how much of a paradigm shift this technology could be. Suddenly, the dead-feeling but busy cities in games such as GTA are alive. The NPCs are no longer walking in circles and repeating the same four lines of dialogue; now they have routines, friends, personalities, jobs — and you can influence the trajectory of their little lives.
This is in essence what Inworld is looking to do. The company’s AI character engine has already been popular in community mods of GTA, among other games. With this significant funding and a talented team of ex-Google, DeepMind, and AI start-ups, we might be looking at a transformative moment in the annals of gaming history.
AI-driven characters are new magic. They will power a paradigm shift (a form of renaissance) in storytelling, and escapism, where the audience can transcend the role of passive viewer to active participant […] This type of interactive media will open up new avenues of creative expression, with narratives guided by the collective imagination of creators and the audience. Creatives will invent, spark, improvise, and guide these persistent role players, personas, relationships, scenarios, and dynamic worlds.
— John Gaeta, Chief Creative Officer at Inworld
The technology isn’t merely a ChatGPT plugin awkwardly grafted onto a game’s NPCs. Inworld’s AI surpasses chatbots and allows rigging to animations, as well as distinctive personalities, goals, and emotional intelligence. Ghosts in machines are putting ghosts in machines.
Inworld AI is compatible with both Unity and Unreal Engine and they are aiming to launch an open-source version of the Character Engine to “foster collaboration and innovation in generative AI.”
The $100m funding round saw some big names in tech wanting to get a piece: the likes of Microsoft’s M12 fund, Eric Schmidt’s First Spark Ventures, LG, Samsung, Stanford University, and Lightspeed Venture Partners, among others. The money raised will be allocated to research and development, hiring, and infrastructure.